CALGARY — There was something that happened on the fourth quarter, game-tying play that really impressed McLeod Bethel-Thompson on Saturday night.
Of course, Kurleigh Gittens Jr. ran a great route and made a stellar catch in the end zone for the score, but it was the block from receiver Eric Rogers that Bethel-Thompson was raving about after the game.
“Eric Rogers is an amazing football player. That is all on Eric Rogers. He came in where he has to block a front side (line)backer, he scanned all the way back,” Bethel-Thompson said following the Toronto Argonauts victory over the Calgary Stampeders.
“It was the best play of the game, hands down. For a receiver to make a play like that, at that time, to see the blitz, it was absolutely phenomenal. It was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen.”
That play, Rogers’ block and Gittens Jr.’s touchdown, was the start of the fourth quarter comeback for the Argonauts on their way to a 23-20 victory over Calgary.
“I was taking every other series so for me, I really had to stay dialled into the game mentally,” Gittens Jr. said when asked about the touchdown. “So whenever I was in, I can’t be a fall off. I have to be up to date, up to speed with how the game is going. I kind of just kept my mind into the game.
“I saw what coverages they were doing and just preparing for my moment. So when coach called that play, I knew I was getting the ball. I just positioned myself in a position to make the play and Mac threw a great ball and I just made the play.”
The touchdown was set up by a massive play from Charleston Hughes against his former team, after forcing a fumble (and recovering it) on Calgary running back Ka’Deem Carey. That brought Bethel-Thompson and co. back on the field needing a score late in the final frame.
Bethel-Thompson made quick work, throwing the touchdown pass on just the second play of the drive. Following Gittens Jr.’s major score, it was Rogers who hauled in the two-point convert to tie things at 20.
Toronto’s defence then held Bo Levi Mitchell and his offence off the board on their next drive and Bethel-Thompson did the rest for the Boatmen. He moved the chains into field goal range where Boris Bede connected on the game-winner from 32-yards out.
Mitchell had just 30 seconds to try and make something happen but once again, Toronto’s defence held strong, as Shaq Richardson picked off the Stamps pivot to seal the deal.
“Coming down to the most important time in the game, a game-winning drive or the final drive of the game,” said Richardson. “The defence, there’s a lot of pressure on us to stand up and make a play. We’ve just got to stand up in those moments. When the pressure is the most high, you should be performing the best.”
“We found out we have heart today. We need better execution,” said Bethel-Thompson of his team’s victory. “But we’ve got some men with some big hearts.”
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